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The House at Riverton: A Novel by Kate…

The House at Riverton: A Novel (original 2006; edition 2009)

by Kate Morton

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3,4001801,588 (3.86)276
Title:The House at Riverton: A Novel
Authors:Kate Morton
Info:Washington Square Press (2009), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 473 pages
Collections:Your library, To read
Tags:gothic novel, fiction, England, WWI, ebook

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The House at Riverton by Kate Morton (2006)

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    kitzyl: There is a passage in The Shifting Fog which describes the relationship between Hannah and Emmeline as a "string that bends, it will eventually snap and the points will separate; if elastic, they will continue to part, further and further, until the strain reaches its limits and they are pulled back with such speed that they cannot help but collide with devastating force." In The Dark-Adapted Eye, the sisters are Vera and Eden whose inexplicably interdependent-but-destructive relationship embody the aforementioned elastic string. The story is told from the perspective of their niece who accompanies the reader on the events leading up to the devastation.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 167 (next | show all)
A solid book which picked up its pace and characterisation at the last third of the book. I enjoyed the use of Grace as the narrator/witness to the unfolding events but I would have preferred her involvements/connections to be more detached and for the story to not focus on her later achievements/family - Ruth, Marcus, why bother? Although Alfred was a sweet touch - as they all seemed so redundant and pulled away from the atmosphere of the story (half a star off).However, I cannot begrudge portrayals of women who are interested in furthering their education.

The device of having a movie being made in 1999 based on the events of 1924 seemed unnecessary - what was the point of Ursula, really - , but that's because I don't enjoy having screenplays cutting up the flow of stories, much less as an opener (newspaper clippings and letters, however, are fine for some reason) (half a star off). The first half of the book was spent on building up the supposed special bond - The Game is a big "signifier" of this but it didn't sound like it was anything other than make-believes that children have been doing for ages, but it was supposed to be more special here somehow because of the special rules? - between the siblings and their personalities which took too long and was not so convincing. (a star off)

There were a few sections where the reveal of the twists were a bit too heavy-handed, for example when Grace spends a few pages having a stream of consciousness and figures out who her father is all the time while being proposed to and other times, unnecessary, for example Ursula is Hannah's descendant which did not really justify the necessity of her place in the book (half a star off). I did however like the role of shorthand.

Lest it be thought that I did not like the book, the last third and especially the last hundred pages really made up the the rest. I may be a little unfavourable towards the book as all throughout, I was comparing it to [A Dark-Adapted Eye] which kept the cast of characters more compact and more relevantly and I was more convinced of the "special bond" between the sisters. ( )
  kitzyl | Sep 18, 2014 |
The House at Riverton is narrated by Grace, a former servant of the long established home, but the story is really about two sisters, Hannah and Emmeline, and the aristocratic way of life that is vanishing following World War I. Grace is the same age as Hannah and meets the girls, along with their brother David, during their visits to their grandparents at Riverton Manor. Told in two time periods, the reader is first introduced to the elderly Grace, living out her last days in a nursing home. When she is contacted by a film directer creating a movie about the sisters and a mysterious death that occurred at Riverton, the secrets she has kept all her life rise to the surface and she feels the need to release the burden of the truth before her time ends. Read my full review at http://thekeytothegate.blogspot.com/2014/07/the-house-at-riverton-by-kate-morton... ( )
  rebeccaskey | Jul 7, 2014 |
This was the never ending book. It went on and on. although I enjoyed the description of life in the house at the turn of the century, the pure length of the book was excruciating. I listened to it - all. About a woman that falls in love with her brother's friend and how all those events unfold. ( )
  csobolak | Jun 30, 2014 |
This was fun. An absorbing read - part historical fiction, part mystery, party romance. It's a familiar format to me. It's constructed from the point of view of a woman in present time dying and looking back on her life as a servant to an old English family during and after WWI. It's mainly just an absorbing story, but Morton does touch on some deeper themes of the shell shock that the men in WWI dealt with upon returning home.

Overall, this was fun and enjoyable - a good diversion. I'll look for more of Morton's work when I want an easy to read, absorbing book. ( )
  japaul22 | Jun 8, 2014 |
‘…history is a faithless teller whose cruel recourse to hindsight makes fools of its actors.’

The House of Riverton tells the tale of Grace Bradley who began working as a housemaid for the Hartford family at Riverton in 1915 during the first World War. Her life became inextricably linked to the house and its inhabitants; a link that would last a lifetime. Flash forward, Grace Bradley is 98 years old and living out her final days in a nursing home yet still holding tightly to the secrets she’s kept for many decades. Grace is approached by a young filmmaker who is making a movie about the tragic summer of 1924, when Robbie Hunter committed suicide, and nothing which followed was ever the same.

The story spans a vast time period beginning in 1915 when World War I is underway, to the 1920′s which completely redefined social and cultural customs and all the way to the late 90′s where we’re able to see just how much one tragic even can haunt someone forever. Kate Morton skillfully brings this time period and her characters to life. The impact of the war on the household was authentic feeling and especially well done. The one other novel of hers I’ve read, The Secret Keeper, is an absolute favorite of mine. Having read this one now I can definitely tell that this is her debut novel as it lacks the polished feel of The Secret Keeper. The House at Riverton is still a well-written and vibrant story with a cast of interesting characters although I found the mystery itself to be a bit disheveled.

The book summary makes it seem as if the story is centered around the mystery of a poet who committed suicide at Riverton in 1924, however, it took an endless amount of time to actually get to that point. The poet, Robbie Hunter, was a young man that Hannah and Emmeline met in 1915. He was a friend of their brother David and the two ended up going to war together. Their introduction is brief at the beginning of the book yet Robbie does not reappear again until close to the very end. The story had been following a steady path up until his reappearance and it not only threw a wrench in the story but made everything that followed feel contrived and artificial.

There is also an additional side mystery involving the narrator, Grace, and how her mother had worked at Riverton when she was younger. Her mother dies and takes her secrets with her and Grace slowly uncovers them throughout the novel. This unfortunately could have been interesting but felt ultimately unnecessary and not only detracted from the main mystery but extended the book needlessly. It was a separate mystery entirely from that of Robbie Hunter and I felt as if there was a similarity between Grace’s and Hannah’s secret that it would have been a better fit for the story as a whole.

The House of Riverton is an entertaining historical fiction debut that is chock-full of secrets waiting to be uncovered. It’s reminiscent of Atonement with a slight Downton Abbey feel and will be pleasing for fans of both. ( )
  bonniemarjorie | May 1, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 167 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kate Mortonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fernández Jiménez, DavidTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, CarolineNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Middelthon, Elisabet W.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Davin, who holds my hand on the roller-coaster
First words
Last November I had a nightmare.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Originally published in Australia as "The Shifting Fog." Name changed to "The House at Riverton" for publication in the UK and US.
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
A story of love, mystery, and a secret history revealed. Summer 1924. On the eve of a glittering society party, by the lake of a grand English country house, a young poet takes his life. The only witnesses, sisters Hannah and Emmeline Hartford, will never speak to each other again. Winter 1999. Grace Bradley, ninety-eight, one-time housemaid at Riverton Manor, is visited by a young director making a film about the poet's suicide. Ghosts awaken and old memories-long consigned to the dark reaches of Grace's mind-begin to sneak back through the cracks. A shocking secret threatens to emerge, something history has forgotten but Grace never could.
Haiku summary
Secrets aplenty
In the house at Riverton.
All will be revealed.

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(see all 2 descriptions)

Grace Bradley went to work at Riverton House as a servant when she was just a girl, before the First World War. For years her life was inextricably tied up with the Hartford family, most particularly the two daughters, Hannah and Emmeline. In the summer of 1924, at a glittering society party held at the house, a young poet shot himself. The only witnesses were Hannah and Emmeline and only they--and Grace--know the truth. In 1999, when Grace is ninety-eight years old and living out her last days in a nursing home, she is visited by a young director who is making a film about the events of that summer. She takes Grace back to Riverton House and reawakens her memories--From publisher description.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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